This is Home, Part 25 - President Roosevelt, the war ends, the men come home
President Roosevelt had led the country almost through World War II. He is the only president in history who was elected for four terms. I read that in each of those elections, he carried 31 states out of 48. He was loved in the United States and the world.
Just a few days before graduation, we were listening to the radio and heard that President Roosevelt had died. This was on April 12th. I remember telling Daddy, Uncle Doc and Charley that he had died. They were bringing the horses and wagon back from working. For the first time, I saw tears in Uncle Doc's eyes.
President Roosevelt's friends and neighbors plus thousands of others stood weeping at Warm Springs as the funeral train left for Washington, D.C. It took around twenty three hours to get there. (I hope I remembered this correctly.) His casket had been placed on something that raised it so it could be seen out of the windows. At night, the lights in the train were dimmed and the car with his casket was brightly lit. It was also brightly lit during the day. His casket could be seen for miles. The tracks were lined on both sides all the way through the countryside with thousands of people weeping. No matter what the hour there were grandparents, mothers and fathers, often holding children. Mrs. Roosevelt sat watching the continuing tribute to her husband.
On the trip from Washington to Hyde Park, N.Y., the situation was the same.
His daughter, Anna, remembers sitting on the floor and watching from her window all the people who loved him. He was buried in his rose garden at his home in Hyde Park.
There is a famous picture of a black man in a uniform crying and playing "Going Home" on his accordion. I don't know where it was taken.
When President Roosevelt died, it was similar to when President Kennedy died. The whole world mourned and everyone remembers where they were when they heard.
Newspapers published a daily list of servicemen who had died for their country. The day after Roosevelt's death, some newspapers put at the head of their casualty list Roosevelt, Franklin D., Commander-in-Chief.
The war ends
The atomic bomb had been a closely guarded secret. President Truman got the shock of his life when he was told.
First, we had the formal surrender of Germany. V-E day -- Victory in Europe -- was May 8, 1945, but I think the formal surrender was somewhat later. President Roosevelt had told someone that the war in Europe would be over by the end of May.
After calling for the Japanese surrender and receiving their refusal, Truman ordered the first atomic bomb dropped on Japan. They still refused and kept fighting. After a second atomic bomb was dropped, they wanted to stop fighting. The formal surrender was signed on September 2, 1945 (V-J Day) on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. World War II was over.
The men come home
Lawrence (Mary Ellen's husband) came home. So did Bob Bolton (Bea's husband). Denver Williams came home with a bride, Caroline, from the South. So we acquired a Catholic girl in a community that was Baptist. Most of the servicemen came home, except for a military force which we maintained overseas.
The jobs that had been filled by their wives were given back to the soldiers. That sounds strange today, but in those days, women were usually housewives. However, some of them liked working and missed their jobs.